The human body is a multifaceted system of levers that allow us to execute everything from very basic to tremendously complex movements. Separately, levers are simple machines and in the body, muscles deliver the force necessary to move by virtue of its being the force application constituent (motor) of a lever system. One these important components are termed ligaments. Ligaments connect bones to other bones, are principally formed from the inelastic protein collagen, but also have an elastic protein called elastin. This gives ligaments some capacity to stretch, thus allowing for a balance between stabilising a joint and permitting some mobility. Trauma to this connective tissue, otherwise known as ligament sprains, occur when an excessive force (i.e., due to a change in movement direction) ends in the joint moving beyond its anatomical restrictions and stretching the ligament.
Ligament sprains are allocated grades (1, 2, and 3) to specify severity of injury. An increase in the grade is connected with greater soreness and tenderness, swelling, joint instability, and loss of function. It is commonly agreed that all tissues follow a configuration of healing that includes three phases, namely, inflammation, proliferation, and remodelling. Although each phase is linked with known results, tissue healing occurs across a range of considerable overlap with no complete beginning or end time point. That said, certain steps can be taken to maximise the body’s healing faculties. For starters, during the inflammatory phase, rest maximises the natural physiological processes that support appropriate tissue healing. Moreover, full restoration of tissue function following injury can be optimised through careful arrangement of activities with the physiological phase of tissue healing. Specifically, load-bearing exercises, with proper care, can facilitate the remodelling and strengthening phase of ligament repair. Care must be taken, for too much or too heavy volumes and workloads can actually impair these healing processes. Therefore, it is better to err on the side of too little a workload so you can avoid any further impairments.
• Earle, Roger W., and Thomas R. Baechle. NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training. 2nd ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2012.
• Kilgore, Lon. Anatomy without a scalpel. Iowa Park, Tex.: Killustrated Books, 2010.